1, Not knowing the difference between Classical Arabic and Spoken Arabic.
Unlike languages such as French or German, when you learn Arabic you are typically learning more than one language. Classical Arabic is the written form of the language and this style is rarely used in day-to-day speech. Spoken Arabic, on the other hand, should be used in regular verbal interactions. Knowing which is which is a key step in being able to successfully learn Arabic!
2. Not knowing your end goal.
Not setting an end goal when you start learning Arabic can be detrimental to the learning process because you’ll end up jumping all over the place as opposed to focusing on a single language path. If complete fluency is your goal, then you should focus on both Classical and Spoken Arabic. However, if you plan on using Arabic purely for academic or religious purposes, you can hone your focus in on Classical Arabic. Likewise, if you will use it mainly for business, travel, and living abroad, then Spoken Arabic should be your aim.
3. Not finding a language tutor.
While it is possible to learn some languages purely through self-study, Arabic is not one of those. A big mistake many Arabic learners make is that they believe they can first learn Arabic alone and then put it to use later. Unfortunately, Arabic’s tricky pronunciation makes this learning method completely useless. You’ll need to find a qualified instructor who can guide you in the right direction and help you develop those speaking skills.
4. Not practicing speaking every day.
Pronunciation is one of the key things which can make Arabic so challenging to learn. Many Arabic words have a back-of-the-throat (or guttural) way that they are pronounced. This is very challenging to many learners as Latin-based languages rarely put the throat to use in such a way. Spend at least 15 minutes a day talking aloud to yourself in Arabic. This will help your tongue and throat to become accustomed to the pronunciation. And, of course, find someone (preferably a native speaker) who can correct your speech and help you to improve it.
5. Not having realistic goals.
It is important to be realistic when you’re setting goals in your Arabic language learning journey. This is, after all, a language which will take you at least 2200 hours (88 weeks) or more to master, and this isn’t even taking into account the different dialects you’ll have to learn in order to communicate in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Syria! Your language tutor can also help you set realistic goals, whether it be talking to yourself for 15 minutes a day, or learning 10 new vocabulary words a week. Setting realistic aims will make you feel like you really are accomplishing something as opposed stuck in a stalemate with your language learning.
6. Not approaching Arabic differently.
Many students make the mistake of approaching Arabic the way they would other ‘easier’ languages such as French or Spanish. They expect to progress at the same rate as they would with these other tongues and end up falling short, feeling disappointed with themselves, or, even worse, giving up on learning Arabic altogether. Approach Arabic with care, realize that it may take you longer to achieve things with this language than with others, and, above all, be patient and kind to yourself. Committing to learning a new language already makes you a winner!